Releasing Potential; Transforming Lives for Good; YMCA Fairthorne.

Releasing Potential

In 2001 Mike and Jo King established this organistion from their spare bedroom in Havant. I spoke with Mike on the phone to hear that they now have 50+  staff and indeed find ways to ‘release potential’ in some of the most marginalised and ‘hard to reach’ 11-18 year olds in Hampshire and surrounding Local Authorities.  They run 2 specialist schools, a farm site, allotments, an adventure centre, and small social enterprises. Through each of these resources they offer extraordinarily rich and diverse, holistic and compassionate education, care, experiences, relationships  – in short somewhere where hurt and disadvantaged young people can thrive. I look forward to being able to visit the school in Havant or one of their other resources in the autumn – and hopefully to join Mike sailing – another of the enterprises under this capacious charity where children who are in the Care system are offered the joy of learning to sail. 

Transforming Lives for Good TLG is one of the Early Intervention charities it is my privilege to highlight this year. I met with Adeola Oludemi, their Volunteer Programmes Regional Leader for South Central which includes the whole of Hampshire. TLG work through churches in the knowledge that “in every town and city across the UK, you’ll find church communities full of ordinary people ready to make an extraordinary difference.” Through mentors, providing free hot meals during the school holidays and specialist education centres TLG do what they say – transform lives for good. As well as their normal programmes, they are currently offering free Emotional First Aid training to hundreds of churches across the country, to ensure people are equipped to journey with children and their families suffering from emotional distress or trauma. This is so crucial considering the rise in mental health issues amongst young people impacted by Covid-19.  Adeola’s own life, I heard, has been transformed – a civil engineer by  profession, but with a huge compassionate heart for vulnerable children, informed in part by her own journey, she now uses her skills to enable TLG in the South of England to thrive!

Adeola of Transforming Lives for Good 

YMCA Fairthorne Manor On one of the hottest days of this year I spent a wonderful 2 hours wandering in and out of the shade in the beautiful grounds of Fairthorne Manor, whilst talking with Chris Hands (CEO), Judy Hillier (Chair, trustees) and Philippa Spicer (CFO). 

I wonder how much you think you know about the YMCA – my view was shaped by the old Village People song, by confusing the YMCA with YHA, whilst also being very grateful for work their London centre does for homeless young women which I have used in my work in the past.  A confused understanding of the reality to say the least! And in fact, even a grand tour of Fairthorne Manor which was happily accommodating families and children in many of the normal activities which occur is simply the more visible tip of the iceberg of what the YMCA does in Hampshire. To my great appreciation, Chris and his team are informed by the research around ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the growing of resilience, and also by Developmental Assets – an understanding of the importance of children and young people needing both Internal and External ‘Assets’ to thrive. Across Hampshire the YMCA has been building and establishing Early Years centres – from supporting babies and their parents to pre school – all their work is informed by ACEs and Assets. The YMCA’s commitment  to early Intervention is impressive and inspiring. I look forward to visiting some of these Centres in the Autumn and when Covid restrictions allow.

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